Punk had some contemporary artists that were likely inspired by Punk groups doing equally shocking things, or more so. None other were as freaky as Throbbing Gristle at the time, who took music to a completely different level of shock and scariness (at least to the average listener anyway). This is one of their most recognisable releases, and is dark and disturbing, without being like a heavy metal group. It is worth checking out all the same, so let’s see how messed up (or not) the music here is.
We begin with I.B.M. which begins with some strange computer noises, likely from a very early desktop computer. Some freaky and dark sounds are thrown into the mix, showing the world how dark and disturbing music could be. There are a bunch of electronic sounds that are really weird here, and this is pretty odd listening. Some weird guitar based sounds are here too. It sounds really disturbing, because it is. Pretty unusual, but good.
Next is Hit By A Rock which has a basic chugging two chord rhythm, wailing screams and some strange keyboard additions to it. This is pretty out there, even in terms of what the musical world has delivered to the time of writing. If you consider the mainstream of music today disturbing, it has nothing on this sort of music. An excellent montage of sound and weirdness, this is weird beyond all measure. Freakily good.
United is 16 seconds long, obviously an intermission piece. It has some weird electronic sounds that rise in pitch and intensity, before going straight into the next piece.
Valley Of The Shadow Of The Death comes next, and begins with some water rushing sounds and other similar electronic noises. It has some random sampled chatter, which is weird. This is where music meets the world of dark art, it is neither strictly musical nor normal. But, that is the point of it. Some British chatter is then sampled, a really weird and odd kind of “music”, if you can consider it that. The background noise cuts out in the middle, continuing the chatter, before some weird background noises enter. This isn’t really normal, to put it at that. It’s more like a horror movie than anything else out there, and the last sample has a guy discussing a murder or potential murder. Lovely, not.
Following is Dead On Arrival which has some basic drum machine beats with some weird melodies. It has some proto-Acid House sort of sounds in it, which is different. This is a better piece than what came before, and sounds as though it could have been put in a computer game of sorts. Good stuff, and although this album is meant to shock, it is quite consistent throughout artistically. This is six minutes long, and is likely an inspiration for the Post Punk movement, New Wave music and a lot of the stuff in the 1980s. There are some high pitched noises here as well, which are weird as per usual with this album. Kind of catchy in an odd way, it doesn’t seem at all boring through the six minutes that this piece lasts for, which is unusual for music like this. This is obviously not mainstream music for many listeners out there, and instead is for those who love the dark and psychologically messed up sort of music. Good effort, however.
Next along is Weeping which has some delayed guitar parts. Some disturbing singing then enters, about being in an emotionally disturbed state. If you love horror movies and crime thrillers, this may be your sort of music to hear. The lyrics are pretty dark and weird. This is not the sort of music you would ordinarily play to friends or loved ones. There are some other really dark and odd sounds throughout this piece, and it sounds pretty disturbing. Good experimental music, although this is in no way radio or Pop based material. The repeated guitar parts come to the centre of the track in the second half to accompany the messed up singing. Good even if there is little traditional music sense about this track.
Hamburger Lady is actually inspired by a real story, but not a good one, of a lady who was hospitalised with severe burns. It begins with a Pink Floyd style bass sound, before sound freaky melodies enter. Some super cut up vocals then come along, and this piece sounds super weird. It is freaky and messed up beyond all measure, and shows a dark and menacing side to humanity, which is not often personified through music. This is scarier than Slayer or Lamb Of God could ever be. It is enough to get you freaked out on a psychological level, and although the lyrics are barely discernable, it is one weird piece. On a dark art level, this is pretty good, mind you. Weird and inhumane, it fades out gently.
Hometime comes next with a bit of light about it, and samples a young girl talking. It is weird musically again, with some really unusual electronic and guitar sounds about it. This is a strange, strange album and the sounds recorded here are totally odd. The vocal samples flow in and out here along with the weird backing track, showcasing an eerie and unusual side of music that has been followed by few out there. Another really odd piece, this is far out.
Up next is AB/7A which has some cool electronic beats and is rather catchy. It has some lighter melodies on it, and sounds rather musical for a piece like this. It is the light amongst the dark here, and just sounds really melodic and interesting. Towards the middle are some weird additional vocal samples in the background that support the main melodic journey here. A different and good piece of music, this is proto-EDM sort of stuff, but instead of being done by DJs, it is done by Throbbing Gristle. A very good bit of relief amongst the darkness, Throbbing Gristle do well on this track, good to hear. It fades out nicely at the end.
Following is E-Coli which begins with a dark electronic patch, some more freaky sounds and TV samples of scientists talking about E-Coli. It is a really dark and once again, freaky sort of piece. After about a minute, scary sounding guitar parts and textures build up in this four minute long piece. It is definitely out there in terms of music, and it no doubt would have inspired many musicians out there looking to explore the dark side of music. Forget Black Sabbath being scary, this is way more weird. E-Coli is a deadly disease that is horrible to have, and this music fits it perfectly. Good experimental sounds here, though.
Death Threats is a sample of just that, real death threats received by Throbbing Gristle on their answering machine. It is a freaky combination of messages that are really weird, and short. This is the true dark side of music, and if you are not ready for it, then this album may not be for you.
Walls Of Sound is a cool sounding piece from the start, with a load of sonically engineered noise and some high frequency sounds in the background which can make one’s ears hurt. It does sound really awesome though, and despite the rest of the record being dark and scary, this is that, but musical as well. Freaky music for those who don’t like Pop music at all, this is beyond weird. But good all the same. It finishes fairly abruptly, before going into the last track.
Last here is the one minute piece Blood On The Floor which has some out-of-tune singing and some basic musical textures. Beyond odd, it finishes off a really strange album listening experience like no other. A weird and warped listening experience.
Okay this album should be kept out of reach of children, your grandparents or anyone experiencing serious mental health issues. It is really dark, scary, freaky and melodramatic. It’s not the greatest album ever made, but it is psychologically disturbing. Throbbing Gristle may have invented Industrial Music on releases such as these, therefore they have their place in musical history. A good album, but too unusual to be an absolute classic, although it is good to hear the dark side of music.
Freaky beyond all measure.
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